MONTREAL – The National Hockey League has its annual "Winter Classic," but it's looking likely Montreal will get one of the soccer variety this weekend.
According to forecasts, six to 10 inches of snow and ice pellets should land on the Montreal area starting late Thursday. The Stade Saputo grass will thus turn “100 percent white” again ahead of Saturday’s game between the Impact and Columbus Crew (2 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in US).
While the club can always clear the field from snow, it remains powerless to change the temperature, which shouldn’t rise above 43 degrees on Saturday – and the wind chill could hit lower than 35. An additional half-inch of snow is also expected Saturday.
And actually, the Montreal players don’t really mind.
“It’s been really cold here all winter, so it feels mild outside right now,” goalkeeper Troy Perkins told reporters on Thursday. “That’s an advantage to us. In Columbus, it’s been kind of warm, then cold on different days. The cold shouldn’t affect us at all.”
The Impact are just happy to finally compete outside, at Stade Saputo, albeit without head coach Marco Schällibaum, who was ejected from the 2-0 defeat at Sporting Kansas City for throwing water.
The Swiss coach has seen his fair share of foul weather during games, and despite his suspension, he is hopeful that his players will share his philosophical take on the potential situation going into this weekend.
“Those are circumstances we can’t control,” Schällibaum told the media. “Cold weather comes from above, it’s not our decision. Football is played outside. Sometimes with rain, snow, cold or warm weather. What’s important is that we’re getting back to our stadium, our home. We just have to accept the circumstances and adapt.
“When the field is dry and the grass is good, you can play better technically. But there might be mud, there might be water, and we have to adapt. We can’t play short passes when the pitch is heavy. We have to change our philosophy.”